The D7100 features a 3.2-inch RGBW rear LCD, offering lower power consumption as well as the option of increased brightness compared to RGB panels.

At 3.2 inches, the rear LCD of the D7100 is slightly larger than the 3-inch screen on the D7000 and is the first display on a Nikon DSLR to employ an RGBW pixel array, presumably the 'WhiteMagic' panel that Sony developed in 2011. The additional white dots allow the screen to either be run at lower power or noticeably brighter than the RGB panels found on previous Nikons. This results in markedly better visibility when shooting outdoors in bright sunlight, making menu adjustments and composing via live view in these conditions a trouble-free experience on the D7100.

Information display

Press the info button while in shooting mode (except in live view) to show a full screen 'information display'. Introduced by Nikon as far back as the D40, having a single screen with comprehensive shooting information logically arranged can be very useful. By default, the information screen automatically switches between the two contrast modes shown below, based on ambient light levels; though you can manually configure it to use one or the other. The monitor will turn off with a half-press of the shutter button or after a user-specified period of inactivity (the default is 10 seconds).

'Dark on light' setting (bright ambient light) 'Light on dark' setting (low ambient light)

Changing settings

One complaint we had of previous Nikon DSLRs like the D600 was the somewhat convoluted method required to change settings via the rear screen. The D7100 introduces an 'i' button that functions like other manufacturers' 'quick menu' controls for easy access to one of 10 camera settings. Press the 'i' button and the traditional information screen is displayed but now the two rows of settings icons along the bottom can be navigated and adjusted via the multi selector and - if configured - the main command dial.

After pressing the 'i' button you can navigate the two rows of icons using the multi selector. Pressing the OK button... ...takes you to a menu screen where you can adjust the chosen parameter either with the multi selector or the rear camera dial if it's been so configured in the custom menu.

Among the options you can change from the information display are the image area crop, high ISO and long exposure noise reduction and Active D-Lighting setting. You can also define the behavior of the Preview and Fn buttons.

Virtual horizon

The D7100 features a 'Virtual horizon' with distinct iterations in the viewfinder and rear LCD. An aircraft-cockpit type virtual horizon on the rear LCD (shown below) updates in real time indicating the current orientation of the camera. Unlike the implementation on the D600 and D800, this is a single axis level, which only indicates roll, not pitch. A horizontally level camera position results in green - versus yellow - reference lines. By default, the Virtual horizon is displayed with a press of the Info button while in live view. It can also be shown on the rear LCD via an option in the Setup menu.

When activated via the Setup menu, a single axis Virtual horizon appears onscreen over a black background. When the camera is perfectly level along an axis, the reference line turns green. The Virtual horizon disappears with a half-press of the shutter button.

A much simplified level gauge can also be displayed inside the viewfinder if it is assigned to the Fn button. This provides a single axis tilt indicator for both portrait and landscape orientation overlaid atop the image area where, unfortunately it can be difficult to distinguish against a dark subject.

In live view, a Virtual horizon viewing mode can be accessed by pressing the info button in either still image or movie record mode. The Virtual horizon is superimposed over the image area, as shown below.

The live view Virtual horizon offers the same single axis icon as seen in non-live view mode. This view is also available with the camera set to movie record mode.

Image review

Press the playback button to review images stored on the SD card(s). You can cycle through several different photo information screens (shown below) by pressing the up or down arrows on the multi selector or via the front control dial if you configure it for this use in the custom menu f5. In the playback menu you can enable/disable several bits of photo information, pruning the number of information screens down to the single default info view if you wish. By default, you browse images using the multi selector's left/right arrows. The rear command dial can also be configured to perform this function as well.

The default screen in image playback is a 'file information' view which displays frame number, folder name, filename, date & time, image quality and size. Optionally, you can also choose to display the AF frame and selected focus point (shown above) as well. A 'highlights' view overlays blinkies where data is clipped. You can cycle between a composite RGB or single channel clipping views.
The 'RGB histogram' view provides highlight blinkies for composite and single channel histogram data. You can cycle through each channel in turn. There are a minimum of three 'shooting data' screens in which you can review exposure settings and image adjustments.
An 'overview' screen provides a comprehensive amount of image and shooting information along with a small image thumbnail. An image-only view omits all shooting data.

In addition to the examples shown above, additional screens are available if you add copyright data or shoot with an optional GPS device attached to the camera.

Playback magnification and thumbnails

In playback mode you can repeatedly press the 'zoom in' button to move step-wise through the D7100's magnification levels and then use the arrows on the multi selector to move around the magnified image. There are 11 zoom levels. As we've now seen on Nikon's latest generation DSLRs, the highest two levels are 2:1 and 4:1 magnifications, respectively, exhibiting pixelization that makes them of no practical use in evaluating focus.

The good news though is that, like on the D800, you can configure the OK button to jump immediately to a specific magnification level, a feature Nikon regrettably omitted on the D600. Rather unintuitively, since the maximum magnification view displays sampling artifacts, you'll want to set the OK button to the medium, not high magnification option for the most effective view when confirming focus.

One very helpful and time-saving feature is that when pressing the OK button, the magnified view centers on the area where the AF point acquired focus if the image was captured in viewfinder shooting mode. This allows you to quickly check focus between exposures without disrupting the flow of a portrait shooting session, for instance. When shooting in manual focus or in live view, pressing the OK button jumps to the center of the image.

You can configure the OK button to jump immediately to one of three magnification levels: low, medium or high. Here you see the fit to screen view followed by the medium magnification zoom.

The D7100 has three levels of thumbnail views plus a calendar view. Press the thumbnail button to switch to the initial 2x2 (4 image) view, press again for the 3x3 (9 image) view, and once more for a 9x8 (72 image) view. A fourth press takes you to a calendar view. Use the multi selector to move around the index. Note that if you have the 'Rotate Tall' option enabled, images taken in the portrait orientation are displayed vertically.

The thumbnail views are sticky, meaning that even after powering off the camera, pressing the playback button will return to the last selected thumbnail grid. With two SD cards inserted, you can choose which card to playback images from by holding the BKT button while pressing the up arrow on the multi-controller.

Pressing the thumbnail button lets you cycle through three different thumbnail views and a calendar view.